How our new archaeology gallery tells history in exciting new ways

Our new Archaeology Gallery explores exciting ways of telling history to entrance visitors.

Colour image of a reconstructed woman's face from the Neolithic era. Woman has brown skin and brown hair and is playing with a necklace that hangs around her neck.
3D facial reconstruction of a Neolithic woman from Whitehawk

A fascinating mix of new technology and ancient finds is set to transform the world of archaeology for thousands of visitors to Brighton Museum.

The opening of the new Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery on Saturday (26th) is the first in Britain to provide visitors with an all-round experience of the period, by reconstructing the faces of early residents and recreating the atmosphere of the past using sound, film and images.

The new cutting edge gallery focuses on seven people, five who were early residents of Brighton & Hove, who lived from the Ice Age to the Saxons. 3D reconstructions using scientific research from their remains have been recreated to show what they may have looked like.

View of archaeology gallery, showing cases and a woodland backdrop behind.

The science behind the facial reconstructions provides an instant understanding of how our ancestors looked over a 600,000 year period. DNA analysis has helped us understand skin, eye and hair colouring. It shows that different people from a variety of backgrounds and geographical origins have settled in Sussex through history.

As the newest archaeology gallery in the UK, the space has been designed to get away from the traditional glass cases full of pots and flints.

Instead the gallery has been especially designed to appeal to children who study the time period as part of the National Curriculum. Teachers and education specialists have been involved in the creation of the new gallery from the beginning.

Colour illustration of two Ice Age humans seated by a fire
Royal Pavilion & Museums

There has not been an archaeology gallery in the museum for twenty years. Members of the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society petitioned the Council for a new one and have also worked with the museum team as part of a gallery advisory group.

Rather than overwhelm visitors with lengthy historical text, the gallery is designed to provide an ambient effect using sound, film and images set in a woodland clearing to interpret the earliest evidence of people in Sussex to the Saxon times.

As visitors enter the room, they will see the walls adorned with trees to echo a small clearing on the Sussex coast. There will be the sound of people working, cooking and chopping trees down – just how it would have been for early people.

Short films through the space illustrate ancient technological processes and demonstrate how our ancestors made fire, smelted bronze and processed raw materials for cloth-making.

Caroline Sutton, Press Officer

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